Sunday, September 09, 2012

The Maternal Really Is Political, And Partisan, Too

When I was a very young and idealistic woman, who had only myself to be concerned about and who did not always take the time to remain as informed as the electorate should be but usually is not, I can remember cringing over negative campaigning and "wishing we could all just stick to the positive".  I wanted to vote "for", rather than against and all that.  In my personal dealings with people, I try always to look at their best attributes and give them the benefit of the doubt and, in most cases, I find that my overall feeling towards most people I meet are positive and non-judgmental.  Generally, I find this a sound strategy for dealing with people.  In today's political arena, though, it is more of a naivete that wants something beautiful so much it refuses to deal with ugly reality.  Now that I have matured and have more at stake (my children), I have to say that I find that "let's all be positive" viewpoint that I once had more dangerously detached than sweet.

I still think that it is wrong to hatch negative political campaigns based upon people's personal lives.  I never like Sarah Palin's politics, but I never thought it was okay for anyone to bash her for campaigning when she had an infant, or because of her pregnant daughter.  I don't support going after Mitt Romney because of his religion.  I did not think it was okay to go after Clinton politically because of Lewinsky or all his other women, although his behavior utterly disgusted me - I was a lot more worried about the way he signed Gingrich's Welfare Deform into law than with whom he exchanged bodily fluids. That sort of personal negative campaigning is bad, but campaigning strongly against platform planks and ideas that will destroy the American people - that is completely necessary and the President has done far too little of it.

I like President Obama, but not as much as I thought I would.  I chose him over Hilary in the Democratic primaries primarily because he voted against the war but ... he has been an extremely militaristic President and this distresses me.  He is not as strong a supporter of teachers as I would have him be - falling a little too easily under the sway of business-model "reformers" at times - but he is better than the alternative as far as education goes.  I think he did the best he could with health care and has done the best he could with the economy, labor issues and the environment given the outright hostility with which Congress blocks every positive thing he tries to do and the fact that, really, it is Congress who decides the law - not him.  He supports women's rights and gay marriage - these things I love about him - although he has not been able to do much about them.  Truthfully, he seems like a nice guy who I would like to have to dinner except that I would be afraid that our housekeeping and etiquette might be a little beneath his standards - his family is so graceful.  When he first became President and tried to function in a civil, non-partisan way, trying to bring an end to the culture wars and compromise with Republicans - I felt a bit chastened as well as impressed.  Since the days of W., I have definitely been part of the "culture wars" and for a short time, I thought hopefully that maybe President Obama's less partisan, more diplomatic and friendly way would help us all to rise above all that.

I was wrong.  So was he.

Maybe, if President Obama had been a strongly partisan bully like LBJ, he would have been able to get more done domestically.   Whether or not this Congress could be bullied into putting the American people first is hard to say, though.  The only thing we know for sure is that they have been willing to block everything that the President has tried to do for the health and prosperity of American citizens, often because of their self-centered values and short-sightedness, but often for no other reason than that the ideas belonged to the President - I believe racism is a key factor there.  Over and over again, the President politely took the attacks and ugliness hurled at him by the Republican Party and for several years, he rarely ever responded with anything negative in return.  This simply meant that our citizenry got indoctrinated with the people who were screaming the loudest - the mean side of the Republican Party - because they were the only ones speaking up. The President's courtesy got him nowhere.

There are things I like about President Obama, but my vote for him in November will not really be about him.  My vote for him will be about the fact that he is running as a Democrat which implies acceptance of the values outlined in the 2012 Democratic Party Platform - a document that, with a few key exceptions, very much mirrors the values that I want to see in American life - you should read it.  Even more, though, my vote for President Obama will be a vote against the Republican Party.  Mitt Romney is running as a Republican which implies that he accepts the values of the 2012 Republican Party Platform - a document that is more sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-science and elitist than any screed I have ever seen.  It is amazing to me that the Republican Party would openly admit to believing in the things outlined in their platform - it seems more like the sort of thing extremists would whisper about in secret but hide in public, and yet they are not hiding it - it is published for all to see (I have to give them that).  Again, I have to say - read it.

I feel very strongly that victory by the Republicans would endanger the future of my own children, as well as of children in general.  I am not saying that to be sensational - I have read the platforms and I believe this to be true.

The Republican Party no longer believes in public education and is out to de-fund it.  The Republican Party wants to do away with health care reform and funding for early childhood education programs.  The Republican Party thinks it is a-okay for health insurance plans to discriminate against the health care needs of women and is pretty keen on doing away with many forms of contraception, not to mention Family Leave.  It supports the suppression of minority voters and other voters who might vote against the rich.  It wants to gut science education in our schools (for as long as we have schools) and teach vague religious theories in its place.

Worst of all, the Republicans want, as climate change laps at all of our shores, to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency and allow full reign to the polluters.

I have daughters.  There are children everywhere.  This cannot be allowed to happen.

Am I angry?  You bet I am.  I am very angry that the Republican party has been able to buy up so much of our political system and aim it as a weapon against the futures of my children.  Am I full of negative rhetoric?  Believe it.  Will I, more than anything else, be voting against rather than for something in November?  I certainly will be.

I have to.

A vote against what the modern Republican Party has become is a vote for a future in which my girls have the rights and protections that they deserve.


Andrea said...

This is so well-thought out and written! Thank you. It seems today that you have to have an all-or-nothing approach to politics. We have to either love everything Obama has done, or become republicans (or something). That to feel or express dissent regarding the militarism or the anti-privacy, anti-whistleblowing aspects of this administration means we have given up hope. And in many cases, I have. But the platform is there, at least, expressing core values and beliefs. And to choose otherwise, would be, I agree with you, dangerous. To let others who wish to take away the vote from all but those who agree with them would be dangerous. Romney/Ryan is a scary prospect. All three branches of government in the throes of the pro-corporate/conservative/regressive party is scary.

Ted McLaughlin said...

Well said, and I agree. Obama has disappointed me, but the alternative (Ryan/Romney) is unthinkable -- and dangerous both to our economy and our democracy.